Thursday, April 19, 2012

Waste not, want not...

Every once in a while on Twitter, I share some tricks I have learned over the years to avoid wasting food. I thought that I would put a short list of them together here so that those who don't do Twitter, or who might have missed them, would hear about them. I would also love to hear your tips, so don't be shy in the comments section.

First of all, I keep a "cooking milk" jar in the fridge. I have little kids who will misplace a sippee cup or fail to finish a glass of milk. I do not waste that raw milk, I dump it into a quart canning jar. When a recipe requires soaking with sour milk or I am making baked goods that need milk, or I am making hot cocoa then I can use this milk. It will be cooked so there is little worry about how long it was out and since it will be cooked, I do not want to use my fresh milk for it.

Second, sometimes a little guy will not finish his yogurt or smoothie. When it is a deliberate defience, they will get it the next meal but sometimes an older kid served too large a portion or the kiddo fell asleep (smoothies are emergency meals, so we could be running around). This does not go in the cooking milk jar because they are often acidic and will break into curds and whey if heated. This always goes into soaking oats or flour for pancakes or other breakfast-y goodness, which adds the extra benefit of bringing along flavor from additions the kids put in like fruit and honey. See how I make a gallon of yogurt without a maker HERE.

Third,  I make my own vanilla. When the vanilla is used up, I have beans that have probably little flavor in them but some and I do not want to waste my expensive beans. The next time I make yogurt, I will drop a few beans into the jars of milk as they heat and the added temperature wrests the very last drops of flavor from the beans and gives me vanilla flavored yogurt. This is the kids favorite kind and they get excited when they see an empty canning jar full of beans. See how I make homemade vanilla HERE

Fourth, I use every drop of honey from a jar. My farmer puts his honey in glass canning jars and the local health food store honey we supplement with also comes in glass. When the jar is pretty empty, I drop in a tea bag (or two, depending on the size of the jar) and I pour hot water into it to make tea. I give it a good stir and drink up knowing that I did not waste the honey clinging to the sides of the jar.

Fifth, I keep plastic freezer bags full of  yummy ingredients for broths and meat dishes.

  • I save baggies of bones to make broth with and I mix them up all up. When I have enough for a full crock-pot, I make bone broth. Usually I make two chickens for dinner at a time and I have the kids take the bones right to the pot but sometimes we have things like pork steak and we don't have a lot of bones. 
  • I also keep bags for poultry livers and a separate one for other organ meats. Chicken hearts and gizzards are healthy but not really tasty (unless you ask my mom who LOVES the heart). The livers get used to make pate when I have enough and the thawed organs get run through the food processor to add to ground beef. Make sure you keep these well labeled. They look the same when they are frozen.
  • I keep a bag full of vegetable bits including any small leftover pieces from the kids' plates. You can save celery bits, ends from carrots, onion skin and the like. Whatever it is, goes in the bag. I do not make vegetable broth but use it to add flavor and depth the bone broths, particularly when there are a lot of different kinds of bones.


Last but not least, we have a soup day every Saturday. All the small leftovers go into a pot with some mire poix (carmelized onions, carrots, and celery) and bone broth. After it comes to a boil, I adjust the seasonings (salt and pepper and probably a little bit of lemon juice) and then I toss in frozen veggies or any leftover veggies and finish with cream. This cools down the soup for little guys. I never have a lot of leftovers, just odd bits and this makes sure they all get eaten.

I want to say that since I keep a lot on hand, it is really important that I go through it all weekly. Saturday morning is fridge cleaning day and I check and see that I am using leftovers and make plans for what to do with things since the last fridge day. If I had all this in the fridge and not a regular day for cleaning it out, I would quickly be over run!

What are your best tips?

Linking up to Simple Lives!

11 comments:

  1. thursday is "leftover madness" day at our house. since we observe meatless fridays throughout the year this helps me clean out the fridge of leftovers (usually with meat). this also helps because i tend to cook more "fun" or experimental things over the weekend and i have plenty of room to store our homemade goodies. we have an outdoor pot-bellied pig who gets many of our veggie scraps and any meal scraps that can't be turned into broth... this saves on pig feed and she is our happy grunting composter!

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    1. In Finland, the person who picks off other people's plates is known as "the house pig" for just that reason!

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  2. I love the milk jar idea! My kids don't like raw milk as much after it's frozen. I've been drinking their milk, but there's only so much milk I can drink. I never thought of collecting it for recipes like pancakes.

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  3. Love tips like this! I order my vanilla beans from Beanilla in bulk and when on sale. I love the tip about vanilla yogurt.

    Yeah, we do the Thursday leftover deal a lot to and soups are common. I'm always trying to use something up not always with success.

    I did make a cream of spinach soup (trying to use up the last of last year's frozen spinach as this year's produce is already coming in. It did not turn out so well. Blech. So I just gave the last of it to the chickens who loved it. I had already sneaked it into the chili (and the kids were so on to me), a delicious concoction of rice and pork--it made the rice green, but that was okay b/c it was popular, and lastly in some hamburgers which I think went over the top. (If you covered them with lots of cheese, mayo, pickles, catsup etc. it was okay, but even my husband seemed to give me a look and he is pretty tolerant!),

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    1. Yeah, I was trying to use up some frozen things and the kids got a little sick of it, too! But if you think about it, giving to the chickens is STILL turning into good food!

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  4. I do a fridge day as well! Normally on Saturday or Sunday! Great tips!

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  5. I love your cooking milk jar!! I'm going to try that.

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  6. I save our raw milk too! Every night when the kids go to bed, they love to have a glass of milk. It has become a ritual. Often, they do not drink the whole thing. The next morning when we get up, I grab their milk cups from the dresser and pour into a milk jar and leave it on the counter. I just used our clabbered milk this morning to make oatmeal actually. I was writing a post and thought, do I include that part of the story? Or will it freak people out :) You inspired me, I think I'll share "that part" too.

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    1. I love that you leave it out, that would save space in the fridge. In all honesty, my younger kids have the same bedtime milk ritual, too. Very cool!

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  7. Fabulous post, these are ideas we use too. Mixing herbs that have begun to wilt with butter and freezing saves expensive herbs for later too.

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    1. That is a brilliant idea! I love compound butter and I try to make it for dinner parties and holidays and if I used your trick, we'd have it around more often. Super tip!

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